Well, it’s been about a week since I began my YouTube Termination Challenge, wherein I disable all access to social media, including the likes of YouTube, the gigantic media machine that spews content out at the rate of a minigun with no reduction of ammunition in sight.
So far, it really hasn’t been difficult to do – in fact it’s pitifully easy. It’s a sign that I’m very independent of a lot of the things I use habitually and don’t have a drive to use it actively out of necessity. That’s a good thing.
The other thing I noticed a few days in was observations around me, which was mainly in the smoke and mirror storytelling that people play all over the world. It’s peacocking, I know – but nonetheless, it was an interesting observation and it’s a side effect of the saturation of social media in our lives. People become more narcissistic, materialistic and they filter reality to optimize it for content viewing pleasure, simultaneously dropping themselves deeper into depressive states as another Instagram account did their photo, but better and with bigger tits. It’s an implicit rat race of seeing who looks the best, and it seems to be turning people into depressed, go-getter soulless assholes. I hate the fact that I have to say not everyone, but people often don’t register nuance so, I don’t mean everyone.
But I digress. This has all been within a week, and probably the most important observation I noticed was the clarity of mind and mental headspace that has manifested in my daily life. Not just that, but the sleep quality, too!
Some people may say placebo, confirmation bias, or whatever – but it’s not. I think and feel calmer than a week ago, and this is also with some extremely stressful events (of the potentially emergency flight kind) occurring this past week – which thankfully turned out fine. Thank you, engineers.
I am noticeably more efficient at doing my job, clearer in routine tasks, and able to simply think with far more clarity on things overall than before. There’s a widening of cognitive horsepower and lots of “junk” information is all but gone from my head.
It was often the case that when I was watching YouTube and listening to podcasts for hours on end, I would have an absolute shit ton of things going on in my mind simultaneously. I learned a lot, definitely, but I noticed that while I was learning a lot, I was also learning a lot of things that weren’t useful to me. It’s nice to know about certain AI breakthroughs and algorithms, but I can’t begin to understand that fully because it doesn’t interest me and it simply isn’t useful to me in terms of practical output. Useful rule of thumb: Filter out what is useless, take what is useful.
Most of the stuff that I listened to on YouTube and saw on the doomscroll of depression that is Shitter/Twitter is just not in my head anymore. Talks about COVID vaccines? No fucking idea. People shitting on each other about their alpha broness? I don’t give a shit, can’t even remember the damn names anymore.
The fact that it’s not in my head and constantly being thrown at me as if I needed a reminder has given me the realization that most of the stuff we listen to and read on the internet is shit that is not actually interesting to us, but because our senses take in so much data all at once, we can’t help but take that information to some degree and hold it in mind for at least a small amount of time. The trick we play on ourselves from here then, is that we often assume these things are important.
I mean, a lot of it is, to some extent. Rights violations, conflicts, wars, Biden forgetting where he is. Sure, they’re important, but I’m selfish and a cynic – it’s not important to me.
That’s an unfiltered truth about how we all are. We don’t really give a shit about things unless they directly affect us. It’s why I don’t trust humanitarians who desperately plead with me to buy a dollar for dying people in a country I’ve never heard about. You’re trying to do the “right” thing, but I’m pretty damn sure you care more about getting the commission than doing it out of some altruistic pursuit of moral superiority. Just be honest – you care more about making the cash and the goal than the kid this might go to, assuming it evades the grip of some insane warlord. You get what I’m saying here – but whether you’re honest enough to admit that your compassion is largely conditioned? Who knows.
Anyway, my point here is that by isolating myself from social media, my brain was able to process all the shit that was thrown at me, and it promptly threw 95% of it out the window. You know what stayed? I wanted to watch The Last Samurai again. I also started making some plans about cycling around Japan and meeting up with my girl. There was also some thoughts of how to invest and thinking about what to write next. Exercise, cooking, focusing on my job, continuing reading a book, some games here and there, meditation, and good sleep.
For real, my sleep has been excellent. I attribute this to two things though:
- The first was I realized my room had no proper airflow. I realized this after I released a rather intense smelling gas from the curry I ate, and it remained in the same spot for a good while. I then proceeded to sleep with my balcony slightly open, regardless of the cold, and it has fixed that problem. CO2 build up is a thing and it’s terrible for sleep.
- The second was the fact that I got sleepier faster in the evenings and stopped looking at random shit on social media. No mind clutter, no new dramatic info that I don’t actually care about, nothing. It was just “I am sleepy, frog now sleeps” and *click* I just fall asleep.
It’s all been pretty peaceful and well…greatly enhancing my overall happiness.
I think the reason for that is because I’m no longer implicitly comparing myself to other people and listening to fuckwits with rented lambo’s on YouTube. I don’t even watch some of those videos deliberately – it’s all autoplay.
But jokes aside, this goes back to the whole smoke and mirror’s thing, and a common element among all of it is that everyone is always comparing and competing. It’s constant, but the only rule to the game is who has more shit, who’s hotter, who has the materials.
None of these are bad in and of themselves. Hot girls are great – but like everything, these things become normalized once they’re a constant, and with constants, there is desire for more to satiate that new level. That never ends, however. Buddha was bang on about the never ending desire and it being a cause for suffering.
I’m not a Buddhist – contrary to what some dimly lit minds have assumed – and while I agree with his conclusion that desire can cause suffering, it is the use of one’s will and how they pursue the things they desire that causes the suffering.
It’s how you do things that causes it – if your desire is purposeful and in line with what you truly want, you will be much healthier. Eventually you’ll want “more” or have some sense of discontentment/stagnation, but this is something that humans naturally shift into as it’s somewhat of a survival mechanism for us to continue to move forward and progress. It’s what makes us cool and the way we are. It is what it is.
Anyway, the main point is that the social media world exploits this particular trait within us – it exaggerates the drive and desire to absolutely fucking insane levels, and the problem is that because of the smoke and mirrors deployed to show a much grander Wizard of Oz, the reality is that most people will never attain that kind of grandiose vision and they’ll constantly be disappointed. You’ll never beat Oz at his game.
And the solution is not to play his fucking game.
That’s the secret behind what has happened to me over the past week – and it’s been just a week. A calmer mind, more headspace, better sleep and knowing what I want more clearly has been the result of me just deciding to turn off the social machine and focus on the frog machine.
It’s pretty wonderful. When I think, my feeling is that I’m thinking what I want to think about, and not what my senses have absorbed from the world of the digital. It has become somewhat of a return to raw values and understanding with much better quality what I like and don’t like in my own life. This is coming from someone who self-reflects constantly, too. It is quite surprising how much “space” has freed up in my mind, and how easily I am able to make decisions for my own living. Clarity.
This doesn’t mean I’ll cut YouTube and social media off entirely – but as I mentioned above, filter what is useless, keep what is useful. This’ll be a rule I’ll take far more seriously as I switch it all back on over time – or who knows, I might even just keep it all switched off in the end, fuck off to some countryside mountain and meditate in a tree like a weirdo monk.
But hey if that’s what I wanna do, I’m gonna do it, and I’m not even gonna post photos of it, either.
Anyway, I’ll continue writing about my detoxification from social media over the coming weeks, alongside other topics as they come. Lemme know if you do it too and see what happens.